Impacts of Environmental Factors on Koala Diet and Habitat use in South-West Queensland – Studying Rainfall/water Availability-foliar Chemistry-koala Interaction using Cuticle Analysis and a Combination of Chemical Assays and Remote Sensing

The koala was reported as one of the ten climate change flagship species by IUCN in 2009, for its vulnerability to malnutrition, severe heat and drought caused by climate change. The low-density koala populations in southwest Queensland are at the margin of their range and will be among the first populations affected by climate change. The aim of my project is to estimate the effects of environmental factors on habitat for these populations. This project will detect seasonal change of the koala diet and foliar chemistry under wet and dry conditions, estimate the ecological plasticity of koala habitat under predicted climate change and assess the ability of such habitat to help koalas to survive severe heat and droughts. The proposed project could give explanations to previous koala studies in the same area, leading to further understanding and more specific suggestions for conservation implementation. Experience of the proposed PhD study would make me being specialized in the habitat-plant-animal interaction and impacts of climate change to animal species for my future development in the field of scientific research.

Funding: Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship

Advisors: Professor Clive McAlpine, Dr Leonie Seabrook, Dr Ben Moore

Project members

Huiying WU

PhD candidate - Awarded 2018